Be Like Children

Last week a Sister who succumbed to Covid asked me to teach her PSR class of first graders at a nearby parish. Although I hadn’t taught for decades, the class went well. When I suggested praying that their teacher would get better, one boy said, “Can we kneel?” So we all did, and I managed to get up again! That evening reminded me how precious children are.

Jesus loved children. Remember how he scolded the apostles for trying to keep the little ones away from him? He embraced the children and blessed them. What’s more, he said, “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” Mark 10:15

Think of young children you know. They are eager to learn things like the alphabet, how to write their name, and how to ride a bike. They are humble and ask for help in tying their shoes or playing a game. Being needy, they are dependent on adults for food, housing, clothing, and transportation. They trust that others are telling the truth. Their joy is contagious when they open presents, and they love giving hugs and sometimes-sloppy kisses. They are innocent. Like clean slates, they are unmarked yet by prejudices and the worship of power, possessions, and prestige.

            Jesus implied that disciples who hope to enter heaven display these same characteristics. They thirst for spiritual knowledge and are open to guidance from Scripture and religious leaders. They are not pompous and self-serving but simple and humble. Basically, they are joyful people, trusting in God’s love for them. They realize it is a privilege to be offered the gift of God’s kingdom. Most of all they demonstrate love.

            Being childlike is a far cry from being childish.

Recently I was asked to review a book about Mary. As a Sister of Notre Dame and the author of four books about Mary myself, I was happy to say yes. The book is available on Amazon. Here is my review:

Clearly, Mercado has done an amazing amount of research to produce Mary’s Life Journey & Her Amazing Yes! Her book opens with the history of the Rosary. This is followed by detailed accounts of the lives of Mary, Jesus, and Joseph as found in several apocryphal (unauthorized) Gospels, including the Arabic Infancy Gospel. The author points out where these stories contradict one another and the canonical Gospels and admits that a few are bizarre. Questions interspersed in the text invite thought about the actual history. The information about the apocryphal gospels will be new to most people and makes for an interesting read.

            The second half of the book focuses on the mysteries of the Rosary. Each type of Rosary—such as the Dominican, Servite, Carmelite and Franciscan—is presented, usually with a list of its mysteries. This part of the book is a boon for those who wish to improve their prayer life. Each mystery is thoroughly explained. For most of them, the story is told implementing the prayer method of St. Ignatius of Loyola in which we place ourselves in the scene as observer or participant. Because of this method, the sacred events are not frozen in time but come alive and touch the heart of the person praying.

            Throughout the book Mercado weaves her personal experiences and own thoughts about the events in Mary’s life. Therefore, although the book is chock-full of information, it has a friendly tone. Frequently the author incorporates the thoughts of noted experts, authors, and saints. A twenty-two- page list of references at the end of the book also attests to the scholarship that underlies it.  After reading this book, people will pray the Rosary with more devotion. More important, they will better understand and appreciate our Blessed Mother.

• When has a child charmed you?

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